The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Progress 2012

February 29, 2012

Athens headed toward a future as artists' enclave

— Art on the Square Arts League hopes to continue to foster dreams and help people achieve their goals in the arts. Here is an interview with ÅOTS president Diane Lehr:

Q: For a long time, Athens did not have an arts league. Yet, it seems to have a higher-than-usual number of artists, musicians and writers. Was it this abundance of talent that led people to form AOTS Arts League? Talk about our local talent.

Lehr: “MaCherie Kerr was a new citizen, now moved away, and a ceramicist in Athens about eight years ago. I had studied ceramics in New Mexico and was studying as an artist in her ceramics studio here. She expressed an interest to me in starting an art festival and an art group in the community. I was interested in the art festival idea and I immediately contacted Athens State University and Gail Bergeron, ASU professor of art. Gail was very busy but immediately agreed to be part of this group. That was the beginning and many local people such as Trisha Black and Lisa Milby have been part of the AOTS group for most of the seven years it has been in existence.

As time went on, more and more artists, authors, and musicians became interested in Art On the Square, and I was amazed at the talent in Limestone County. I have lived in Memphis, Europe and New Mexico, and sincerely was shocked at the abundance of creative people here.  Somehow, I thought that the other places I’d lived had the edge on art over this area. Living here has reminded me that art emerges out of all cultures. Art is a way we express our authentic selves, no matter what obstacles we face, and honestly, art often emerges as a way of surviving those obstacles. The AOTS group has struggled at times in communicating the importance of pushing art forward in community, but all in all, the city, county, Athens State University, TRAIL, and many, many other sponsors continue to agree that visual art and music and drama and dance and writing, and all art forms are as important as the color in the sky or the sounds of the birds in the trees. Our lives would be incredibly bland and sad without the arts. Art On the Square believes that and celebrates all the artistic talent here.”

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